Josquin's only two masses based entirely on canons make an obvious coupling, yet they apparently date from the opposite ends of his composing career. In fact, as Peter Phillips suggests in his fascinating sleeve notes, the Missa Sine Nomine may have been composed as a companion piece to the earlier Missa Ad Fugam, just so that Josquin could demonstrate how much more accomplished his canonic writing had become in his later career, and how his mastery at the end of his life was more than a match for that of his teacher, Johannes Ockeghem. In the Missa Ad Fugam, the canonic writing is always between the top part and the third, with the two lines always a fifth apart, though the distance between the successive entities varies from movement to movement. In the Sine Nomine, the canonic writing is far freer, with individual lines forming and re-forming connections with others as the work goes on. It's intricate but fascinating to unravel, and both masses are gravely beautiful pieces, unfolded with wonderful clarity and purity of tone by Phillips's eight-voice choir.
CD: Josquin: Missa Sine Nomine; Missa Ad Fugam